Speech by EJC President Moshe Kantor at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony at the European Parliament

Speech by EJC President Moshe Kantor at the International Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony at the European Parliament

Brussels, January 25, 2017


Dear President Antonio Tajani,

Dear right honourable Tony Blair,

Your Excellencies,

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Mr. Tajani, please accept my warmest congratulations and wishes to achieve a lot in your new position. European Jewry will be your reliable allies.

For many years, we have gathered to commemorate the Shoah,

to remember its horrors, deaths and destruction,

to honour the survivors,

to salute the liberators,

and to thank those who helped their friends, neighbours or even strangers escape to safety.

The Holocaust was a crime committed by Europeans.

It was a crime against Europeans.

And so, Europeans have a special responsibility to commemorate what their forefathers did or let happen.

The European Union was created from the ashes of the war, a new Europe where Jews could live once again.

And, remarkably, Jews found a life in Europe again and have lived there for decades. Even in Germany.

We have built schools.

We have joined armies.

We have produced art masterpieces.

And have made scientific discoveries.

Two generations of Jews grew up believing they had a home in Europe, like everyone else. But that is now changing.

 

The commemoration today is the ideal time to acknowledge the challenges Europe is facing.

Since our gathering in this room last year, many Europeans have been violently murdered in terrorist attacks in places like Brussels, Essen, Nice, Munich, Ansbach and Hamburg - ending the year with the truck attack in Berlin at the Christmas market.

Europe is in danger. We must warn, ring an alarm bell about the threat, the threat that has come to our common home challenging us every day, every hour. We must not ask for whom the bell rings. The bell rings for all Europeans.

There has been a constant assault on Europe from those who seek to inflict terror and destruction.

One of the results of this is the vicious rise of the far Right and neo-Nazis.

Unfortunately, it cannot be ruled out that by the end of the year far-Right and neo-Nazi parties will gain significant power in some European countries.

The Jews in Europe are facing a threat, unique to our people.

Unlike any other minority, we are not just targets of the far Right, but also of the far Left as well as Islamist extremists.

Few would believe, but there is even cooperation and coordination between these extremist groups on one issue only: Jews.

This is the new Antisemitism - without limits, without borders and with multiple identities and political homes.

We feel that the best way for European leaders to commemorate the Holocaust, would be to recommit themselves to a safe future.

We, European Jews, want to remain in Europe and be loyal to it, as we have always been.

Even after the Holocaust, we did not give up on Europe. But today, our young generations have doubts about their future on the continent.

This essential issue was even the subject of a high-level conference organised by our host, President Antonio Tajani in the European Parliament last September.

We count on Europe to continue showing its loyalty to us. Loyalty to the idea that Jews have a future here in Europe. Not behind high walls, bulletproof glass and barbed wire.

As Europeans, we cannot and should not live this way.


As responsible Europeans, we feel that we must join our forces in defence of our common European values against extremism, radicalism and terrorism.

We paid an enormous price for our freedom, safety and normal life in our countries. Historical memory should be strong and uncompromisable so that future generations never find themselves facing a new tragedy that we left them as a heritage.

Now our main mission is to protect our families, our children. We, citizens of Europe, never forget that every global tragedy begins with attacks on Jews.

I am sure that all of you here ask yourselves what can be done to bring the normality back, or better say, to move to new safe normality.

To that end, I believe that we have to address three main dimensions: 1) security, 2) education and prevention, and 3) legislation.

 

The European Jewish Congress decided to contribute to the security of its Jewish communities and other most threatened minorities in Europe.

We established an International Security and Crisis Management Centre in Austria, which has proved to be quite effective. We work together with all relevant authorities and now we count on the support of the European Union institutions.

 

Radicals recruit and brainwash immature European teenagers and even children to extreme organizations. They have a strategy for 20 years ahead. What countermeasures can we propose?

We have supported special educational programmes - from kindergarten to university - to explain, why religious hatred, xenophobia and Antisemitism are not acceptable.

Preventive measures are important as well. In the UK for example, we supported a centre based on the method of Anna Freud for the most offensive young people, who are easy targets for radicals. 80% of them come back to normal life. And it is definitely a subject of white franchising all over Europe, if not a world.

 

One of the most important legacies of the Second World War - perhaps the most positive legacy - is the creation of a new system of international justice, grounded in the Geneva Conventions, created at the Nuremberg Trials and updated through the International Criminal Court.

Thanks to the Nuremberg Trials, it was above all the Nazi ideology that was outlawed and declared criminal.

It is now time to build on these lessons and establish a special tribunal to condemn terrorism and the radical ideologies that support it, the groups that provide it.

It is about time to bring extremists’ leaders and foot soldiers to justice for their war crimes, crimes against humanity and possible genocide. Extremistsleaders and others must not escape accountability for what they have been and are still doing.

 

Finally, today we are facing the threat of proliferation of nuclear weapons and their falling into terrorists’ hands.

This global threat from terrorist organisations cannot be solved effectively without the United States and Russia working together against it.

I strongly believe that Europe, for the sake of its global security and safety, supports the steps to a normalisation and even cooperation between Europe, United States and Russia. 

Let us not forget that during crucial moments of history these powers always stayed together. On this day 72 years ago, the Russian army liberated Auschwitz. A few months later, the Allied Forces celebrated together the victory in the Second World War. Such an alliance is strongly needed today.


Mr. President,

I am honoured to stand here as your partner on this special occasion.

I hope that we can work together in fulfilling the task at hand, in the same kind of partnership that we had with President Schulz.

I hope that we can meet again next year and the year after that, and the year after that, to discuss not only the lessons of Holocaust, but how we turned those lessons into practice.

Thank you.